About our Daughter

I am mother to four wonderful daughters, ages 17, 19, 21, and 23, and wife to the greatest husband on earth. God has given us a special child to raise one who was diagnosed with early-onset bipolar disorder at the age of seven, though she showed signs of it from the age of fifteen months. She also has ADHD, Sensory Integration Disorder (sensory seeking), Dyslexia, and Non-Verbal Learning Disorder-NOS, all typical comorbidities for a bipolar child. In spite of the trials, she enjoys lacrosse, running (finished her first marathon in October of 2014!), and reading and writing her own books. I will share with you the many joys and sorrows we have faced and will face in the future with the hope that you may find better understanding about this mental illness caused by both chemical and structural abnormalities in the brain. I desire that you will be encouraged by this blog if you are also dealing with a bipolar child. Thank you for reading and sharing in our journey.

How Did You Know She Was Bipolar So Young?

I wrote a long explanation of how we came to this bipolar diagnosis in a child so young under my post of March 19th of 2009. If your child or a child you know bears similarities, please seek out a good psychiatrist and don't wait for "things to get better." Often they will simply get worse, and the longer a child is unmedicated, the more damage their brain can accrue. Early diagnoses and treatment are key to providing these children with a chance at a successful life later as a teen and an adult.
Never change, start or stop a medication without the approval of your child's physician!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When Labels Can Be Unhelpful

After thinking about my post last night, I decided I needed to annotate it with the caveat that sometimes labels can be unhelpful.  I am thinking mainly of when a child labels themselves and uses it to either beat themselves up that they are "less than" or when they use it to manipulate those around them.  We often tell Caroline that although she is bipolar, and that means that she has to take certain kinds of medications and needs to understand how she operates, it is not the sum total of who she is.  Bipolar disorder is part of who she is, but certainly not all of who she is.  Nor would a child with Aspergers be encouraged to see themselves as "the kid with Aspergers" but rather a unique child of God with special gifts and challenges. The Aspergers label helps the parents and other caregivers to understand and interact with the child in a more helpful way, but no one should allow the child to use their diagnosis as an excuse for bad behavior.  I know of someone with pretty severe PTSD caused by horrible childhood trauma.  As a result, they have dissociative disorder, which, to put it simply, is when someone "checks out" of present reality when stressed out because they learned to do so when the nightmares they were enduring as children became too much.  The most severe form of dissociative disorder would be termed "multiple personalities."  I am no expert on dissociative disorder, but I have seen the danger of individuals wrapping up themselves up in this label and wearing it loudly so to speak, and expecting others to be able to interact with them with acceptance when they are dissociating.  The end result is more isolation, not less.  In other words, by showing too much affection for their "label" instead of the pursuit of wholeness, they tend towards manipulation of those around them and not towards real healing.  This healing would be characterized by dropping the dissociating as a coping mechanism as it would be no longer needed.  I would say this is where labeling becomes quite unhelpful and even something to hide behind.

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